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The Top 20 Things to do in Columbus Ohio

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman The Top 20 Things to do in Columbus Ohio
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Whether you’re new to town, a long-time resident, or just looking for a new way to entertain visitors, this list was designed to help you find something fun to do. During our 2013 Readers Survey, we asked for top picks for tourist destinations which we presented as a Top 10 list during the unveiling of those results in December.

If you are looking for fun things to do in Columbus, take a look at our Mega Weekend, updated every Thursday with things to do for the weekend!

But there were so many great answers from the 2000+ respondents of our survey, that we decided to revisit, consolidate and expand the list to provide a Top 20 list that will give you even more things to discover and explore throughout the city.

20. Get Creative at 400 West Rich Street

400 West Rich in Franklinton — Photo by Walker Evans.

400 West Rich in Franklinton — Photo by Walker Evans.

A 100,000 square-foot warehouse in Franklinton (located just west of Downtown) has been transformed into a hub of creativity in the past few years. The building is now home to over 100 individual artist studios, the Dinin’ Hall food truck pod, the Strongwater Food and Spirits restaurant and bar, a coming-soon coworking space for entrepreneurs, and a larger event space that hosts public events like the 400 Farmers Market and private events like wedding receptions. 400 West Rich also co-hosts several summer festivals including Urban Scrawl and Independents’ Day. For more information, visit www.400westrich.com.

19. Spend the Day at COSI

COSI — Photo by Walker Evans.

COSI — Photo by Walker Evans.

COSI has been recognized as the #1 science museum in the US, and is one of the top visitor destinations in the city for families. Opened in 1964 (and relocated to its current home at 333 West Broad Street in 1999), COSI features over 300 interactive exhibits that focus on topics ranging from outer space to the deep sea and everything else in between. Special exhibits regularly rotate through the venue, which means every visit promises to showcase something unique. For more information, visit www.cosi.org.

18. Take in a Show at Shadowbox Live


Shadowbox Live features sketch comedy, rock and roll and more! — Photo via Shadowbox Live.

Shadowbox Live is largest resident theater company in the United States, and they call the Brewery District their home, just south of Downtown Columbus. For over 20 years, these local performance artists have written, produced and starred in hundreds (if not thousands) of unique productions that range from rock operas to sketch comedy to period-piece musicals. Shadowbox also regularly hosts stand up comedians, movie nights and other special events to keep their calendar full all year long. For more information, visit www.shadowboxlive.org.

17. Treat yourself to Artisan Pizza and Cocktails at Harvest / Curio

Harvest Pizzeria — Photo by Jennifer Rene.

Harvest Pizzeria — Photo by Jennifer Rene.

Opened in German Village in 2012, Harvest Pizzeria has become one of the most popular artisan pizza shops for locals and visitors alike. Nestled on a quiet strip of South Fourth Street, Harvest boasts an intimate indoor dining experience or a jovial patio experience in a beautiful setting outside. To compliment their wood-fired pizza, the business shares a building and a patio with Curio, an upscale cocktail bar where every ingredient is carefully curated and drink-making is taken seriously. For more information, visit www.harvestpizzeria.com and www.curioatharvest.com.

16. Be Entertained in The Arena District

Huntington Park — Photo by Chris Landauer.

Huntington Park in The Arena District — Photo by Chris Landauer.

The Arena District is a large 75-acre mixed-use neighborhood located in the northwest quadrant of Downtown Columbus. It’s home to the headquarters of Nationwide Insurance and dozens of smaller companies, numerous upscale apartment and condo buildings, and over a dozen restaurants and bars. Additionally, the neighborhood functions as a home for entertainment with regular sporting and concert events at Nationwide Arena and Huntington Park, as well as festivals at McPherson Commons and North Bank Park. For more information, visit www.arenadistrict.com.

15. Dine at The Northstar Cafe

Breakfast burrito from Northstar Cafe — Photo by Mollie Lyman.

Breakfast burrito from Northstar Cafe — Photo by Mollie Lyman.

The original Northstar Cafe opened in the Short North back in 2004 and has become a very popular “third place” location for anyone looking for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, coffee, or just a nice place to relax next to the large magazine rack with a good cup of coffee. The restaurant has grown into new regional locations at Easton Town Center, Clintonville/Beechwold and coming soon to Westerville. For more information, visit www.thenorthstarcafe.com.

14. Get Lost Inside The Book Loft

The Book Loft in German Village — Photo by Walker Evans.

The Book Loft in German Village — Photo by Walker Evans.

The Book Loft is one of the largest independent book stores in the United States, boasting 32 categorical rooms to explore in a maze-like configuration that can keep you hunting for new book for hours on end. Grab some coffee next door before you embark on your adventure and plan to stay late as they’re open until 11pm seven days per week. For more information, visit www.bookloft.com.

13. Get Hip to South Fourth Street

South Fourth Street – Photo by Walker Evans.

South Fourth Street Bars and Patios – Photo by Walker Evans.

South Fourth Street has recently become on of the hippest destinations in Downtown Columbus. It started when Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace opened in 2009 and picked up even more steam when Little Palace, El Camino and 16-Bit Bar+Arcade joined in to create a solid block of entertaining bar and restaurant businesses. Though still small, this area is likely to continue to grow in the coming years, so keep your eyes peeled for new additions here.

12. Hang Out on Gay Street

Gay Street comes alive during the Moonlight Market — Photo by Wenxin Sally Xia.

Gay Street comes alive during the Moonlight Market — Photo by Sally Wenxin Xia.

Gay Street is another block-long Downtown destination of bars, restaurants and retailers that has grown rapidly in the past few years. Our readers pointed out Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails, Due Amici, Cafe Brioso and Zen Cha Tea Salon as some of their favorite Gay Street spots. If you can time it right, be sure to visit on the Second Saturday of the month to take part in the Moonlight Market where all businesses stay open late and the sidewalks are lined with over 60 additional street vendors and retail trucks. For more information, visit www.moonlightmarketcolumbus.com.

11. Tour The Ohio State University Campus

The Ohio State University — Photo by Walker Evans.

The Ohio State University — Photo by Walker Evans.

The Ohio State University is not only one of the most well-known institutions in Columbus to visitors from all over the US, it also keeps our city young with the influx of over 60,000 college students when class is in session. The campus is not just for taking classes though, as multiple visitor and entertainment destinations can be found here, including the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Schottenstein Center, the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum, Jack Nicholas Museum, the South Campus Gateway and more. For more information, visit www.osu.edu/visitors.

CLICK HERE to continue to the Top 10 Countdown!

There you have it! The best of the best when it comes to seeing the sights of Columbus, Ohio. Leave us a comment below and let us know what your favorite thing to do in Columbus is, or let us know if we’ve overlooked something important.

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